'Unicycle: Looking at My World' (1976) 15m, dir. Dan Bessie. The world of 15 year old unicyclist Tony Marienthal includes visits to assist the elderly, learning new juggling tricks, and trying to make it home for supper. The film is a wonderful, idyllic "day in the life" film of a teen-ager. It's also somewhat bittersweet, as Tony Marienthal, who wanted his baby son to see this film, died at the young age of 51. It's uploading is being sponsored by his family, who'll show it at Tony's memorial.
About making the film, director Dan Bessie writes: "The Marienthal family had been friends of mine since I first met them at about age 18 or so, about the time I was making several films during in my early 30s, Tony had learned to ride the unicycle and had a kind of original viewpoint on life, and since I had already made a few films for Barr Films by then, he seemed like a natural subject. I simply proposed the idea to Don Barr, then head of the company, gave him a budget (I think it was only around three and a half thousand dollars or so), and he said 'let's do it.' Simple as that. That was one of the great delights in making educational films - often, I'd just have an idea, and maybe the funder (Barr in this case) would ask to see a script, make a few simple suggestions on it, then I'd bring in the completed film, on the budget they provided. No committees or such, just usually a couple of people who said yeah or nay... The film was very much shot 'off the cuff' and was a great deal of fun to make. We didn't have a script, just a general sense of where we would film. And it was all done in, as I recall, two or at the most three days. We used a shopping cart that someone had abandoned in Tony's neighborhood as a 'dolly,' for a couple shots, with me wheeling cameraman Bob Eberline around in it as he filmed. Except for one other good friend, Linda Dangcil (you can find a lot about her online) and her young son Richard, who appear in just one shot in a shopping mall as Tony cycles past, and one shot with [my friend] Ann, who is driving by and looks out as Tony cycles across the street, everyone else in the film was just picked up at the moment as we moved around West Los Angeles and did the filming. The old people in the film were clients of Tony, who did gardening for them on weekends, and the man in the Mexican restaurant was also well known to Tony, since he often went there for a taco or such after school. (We went through a lot of cheese that day, all with the eager cooperation of the restaurant owner)."